Friday 13 May 2016

One in five of all plant species threatened with extinction

 Very few of the 'important plant areas' in the world have conservation protection

A fifth of all 400,000 plant species in the world are threatened with extinction, a major new study has said.

The "state of the world's plants" report by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is the first study of the global status of plants. 

It warns that many plants are living on borrowed time in the face of large-scale agriculture and the international plant trade in fashionable flowers. 

Climate change is also set to have an effect by drying out areas populated by certain plants, but scientists said this needs further investigation.

Steven Bachman, lead researcher at Kew Science and co-author of the report, said clearing areas for livestock and crops was the biggest threat to the survival of plants - many of which hold the key to future climate challenges.

"When you add it all up, climate change is a threat, but the main dominant threat at the moment is agriculture," he told The Independent.

"The conversion of habitats into areas for farming and livestock, taking those natural habitats, for products like palm oil, is the biggest problem."

The wild harvesting trade was the second biggest threat, with international traders trying to get hold of fashionable plants such as orchids, said Mr Bachman.  
Some 1,771 areas of the world have been identified as "important plant areas" (IPAs), but very few have conservation protection, the study said.

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